A life in music


There’s a fun new website from the Guardian called Six Songs of Me where you get to pick six songs that symbolize key events in your life: the first song you bought (mine? …Baby, One More Time by Britney Spears!); the song that always gets you dancing; the song that takes you back to your childhood; your perfect love song; the song you’d want played at your funeral; and one final song that sums you up. You could ask your students to create their profile and pick their six songs as homework, and then ask them to come prepared, in the next class, to present and discuss their picks. You can play the songs from directly within the website, so students can play their choices to the whole class in order to inspire debate – and I’m sure there’ll be some very strong opinions about certain songs!

There are loads of music-based comprehension exercises in the Macmillan English Campus to continue the musical theme after your students’ presentations: particularly interesting ones are a web project, Radio station (MWP005569), and a Culture World activity, Comparing types of live music (CWO4226). There’s also a lovely little activity  on Onestopenglish, based on a very famous BBC radio program, Desert Island Discs. This program used to invite celebrities and ask them to choose the 8 albums that they would want with them if they were stranded on a desert island (but had access to a CD player of course!). It’s a really great project for students because it gets them creating questions, doing a mock interview in pairs for speaking practice, and finally it makes it personal for the students – who doesn’t like talking about music?! This activity also lets them choose one book and one luxury item that they can have, as this is how the radio programme developed over the years. And they can’t pick the Bible or the Complete Works of Shakespeare!

For a more involved follow-up activity, why not get your students to put themselves into small groups based on their Six Songs of Me, and organize a music festival or event. They could make up advertising posters with some eye-catching headlines and copy, and they could decide on venues, performers and ticket prices. To complete the task, one person from each group has to go to a different group and present their event and convince people to go. Complete this in a carousel so every student has presented at least once, and then ask the whole class to vote for their favourite poster and for the event they’d most like to go to.


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